In the early 1980s, university students comprised a small percentage of the population compared to today – and most came from fairly middle class backgrounds. There was a strong anti-student feeling in many working class areas and this could lead to conflict.
I remember local people in Liverpool referring to the Uni as the “hotel on the hill” and there was a perception that we were the gilded youth. I’m not sure things were quite as golden as the locals thought but that said, our prospects were better than the average scouser aged eighteen in 1982.
Undergraduates were beaten up and attacked. One Liverpool University student who came a cropper allowed himself to be photographed by the student paper, Guild and City Gazette, sporting two black eyes and a busted nose above the headline:
This student had been set upon by ten youths aged between 18 and 21 in the Aigburth area of the city. As the paper discovered, this was by no means an isolated case. In the course of its investigations, a litany of robberies and attacks was uncovered.
A lecturer had been mugged outside the Roxby building with £20 stolen; a History undergraduate was knocked to the floor and £300 taken; a woman saw youths trying to steal her car and was knocked down and mugged; another lecturer had recently been beaten up in Abercromby Square in broad daylight and a ‘gang of 15 locals’ had turned up at the Brook House pub on Smithdown Road to beat up some students inside.
The University’s Security Superintendant warned that “the number of incidents of this nature is definitely on the increase”. A University spokesman agreed that there was a trend. “We are concerned that such attacks are becoming fashionable among teenagers in the area.”